An alarming case of child abuse has been reported from Karnataka's Tumakuru district, where a male school teacher has been accused of showing pornographic material to the girl students.
Police say that 40-year-old Devarajaiah, a teacher at a government school in the district, used to force girl students of sixth and seventh standard, to watch pornographic videos on his mobile phone. Devarajaiah used to allegedly show the video clippings during class and would beat the girl children if they refused to watch it.
The incident came to light on Thursday, when a local television channel reported it. Police said that the Block Education Officer (BEO) Mahesh and the jurisdictional police immediately visited the school to record the students' statements, post which, an FIR was filed based on the complaint filed by the BEO.
What has now come as a shocker even to the police is that the accused Devarajaiah is a habitual offender. A senior police official told TNM that there are 5 cases registered against Devarajaiah in the Kyatasandra police station limits. All these cases are related to sexual offences, the official said.
"We have now found that he is a history sheeter and is getting the details of all the cases. All these cases were registered five years ago between 2012 and 2013. He has been accused of outraging the modesty of woman, and the others are also sexual assault cases. We are verifying the complaints in these cases. In all the case, the chargesheet has been submitted to the court," the official said.
A day after Devarajaiah was booked under POCSO, he continues to be absconding.
"We suspect that the accused already knew about the movement in the case and so he absconded in time. When we went to the school immediately after seeing the media report, be had by then gone off, otherwise we would have been able to nab the teacher then and there," Tumakuru SP Divya Gopinath said.
The current case
According to BEO Mahesh, Devarajaiah has allegedly been showing pornographic clippings to the girl students for the past eight months.
Although a few parents had brought the matter to the notice of School Development and Management Committee (SDMC) several times, the school headmaster let Devarajaiah off after giving him warnings. The committee had failed to bring the matter to the notice of the BEO or the police.
"The teacher was given a warning for at least three times in the past eight months, but he did not rectify his behaviour," BEO Mahesh said.
The SDMC is an internal committee in every government school, consisting of the headmaster and at least 9 parents. Asked whether action will be initiated against the school for failing to report the incident, BEO Mahesh said,
"As far as we understand, the headmaster was kept in the dark about the allegations. The president of SDMC is a parent and he had warned the teacher three times, but did not report it to the headmaster or the police," Mahesh said.
Tumakuru SP, Divya Gopinath told TNM that while allegations galore over the failure of the school to report the incident to the police, a detailed inquiry needs to be initiated to find the truth.
Devarajaiah, who joined the school one-and-a-half-years ago, used to teach general subjects to the students of the upper primary school.
"There are allegations that the students had previously approached the commitee to complain against the teacher, but the teacher was let off after a warning. We need to initiate an inquiry to look into this aspect. If the school principal already knew about the abuse, then they are liable to inform the police about it, which they haven't done. This is a serious offence and we can take action against the school for lapses," the SP said.
Soon after Devarajaiah was booked on Thursday, Deputy Director of Public Instruction of Madhugiri Educational District KJ Rajendra suspended him. He added that neither had the BEO received a complaint against the teacher before, nor has any parent approached the DDPI with complaints on the matter.
"According to the students, the offence had been going on for many months, but we did not receive any complaints on this. Else, we would have taken action against the teacher. Now, he has been suspended pending enquiry," Rajendra told TNM.